By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family
shopping cart in a grocery store aisle

As a cashier, I have seen the range of emotions and responses to COVID-19 as people venture out to go shopping. Now that many states are lifting Stay-at-Home orders, people seem divided. Many are excited to be able to go to other non-essential places. They are happy to begin a return to normal. There are others, though, who must maintain the cautious social distancing that others are ready to shed. These are people who have illnesses such as cancer and their family members. For these vulnerable people, I have some suggestions for making grocery shopping safer and easier. Minimize exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses by doing any of the following Utilize InstaCart Shoppers (don’t forget to tip them) Order groceries online from the comfort Read more…

Get a Mammogram

Today, the 2nd Monday of May, is National Women’s Check-Up Day. Even if you aren’t getting a check-up today, you can make the call to schedule one. You can also decide whether or not to get a mammogram. Here are the basics: When and how often should you get a mammogram? Until recently, recommendations were for women to get screening mammograms beginning at age 40. Recently, the American Cancer Society has said that women can wait until age 45 to start getting annual mammograms and cut back to every other year once they turn 55. Still, they should have the option to get a mammogram beginning at age 40. When you get a mammogram, is a personal decision that should be made based on your Read more…

My Husband's Funeral

This week I attended the funeral of a good friend’s wife. It brought back so many memories of my husband’s funeral, I’ve been thinking a lot about the way we express and suppress our emotions. I should preface this post by saying that I am only writing about my experience. After all, there are so many factors that will influence the way you express or suppress your grief. These factors include your culture, religion, family traditions, the messages you received about grief as you grew up, and how expressive you are as an individual. I believe that all of these things combined will affect your behavior and your thought processes under the strain of grief. The Value of Gathering Together Prior to my husband’s funeral, Read more…

Breathing Exercise

This is part 4 of our Breathless Series. In Part 1, we looked at some of the reasons for breathlessness in cancer patients. I also shared my husband’s experience with shortness of breath to the point he nearly died. In Part 2, we looked at medical approaches to breathlessness. Part 3 was a look at non-medical approaches to breathlessness, including breathing techniques and ways of controlling your environment to alleviate symptoms of breathlessness. In this final installment of the series, we will look at more non-medical ways to alleviate shortness of breath: breathing exercise. Breathing is Medicine Donna Wilson, RN, is a personal trainer at the integrative medicine center at Memorial Sloan Ketterling Cancer Center in New York. She helps restore flexibility, reduce breathlessness and fatigue in Read more…

Breathing Technique

This is part 3 of our Breathless Series. In Part 1, we looked at some of the reasons for breathlessness in cancer patients. I also shared my husband’s experience with shortness of breath to the point he nearly died. In Part 2, we looked at medical approaches to breathlessness. This post will be about non-medical approaches to breathlessness, including breathing technique and ways of controlling your environment to alleviate symptoms of breathlessness. Non-medical approaches, including specific breathing techniques, can be very effective ways to breathe easier. On January 25, 2017, the Lung Cancer Alliance, kicked off their Coping Series with a webinar called “Breathing Easier.” The Coping Series is designed to educate and provide practical ways to manage the most common symptoms and side effects experienced Read more…

Breathlessness A Medical Approach

This is part 2 of our Breathless Series. In Part 1, we looked at some of the reasons for breathlessness in cancer patients. I also shared my husband’s experience with shortness of breath to the point he nearly died. There are both medical and non-medical approaches to alleviate the symptoms of breathlessness. In this post, we will talk about the medical approach. The Lung Cancer Alliance In 2017, the Lung Cancer Alliance recently held a webinar called, “Breathing Easier.” It was the first webinar in their Coping Series. This is a series designed to educate and provide practical ways to manage the most common symptoms and side effects experienced by lung cancer patients and survivors. Because Approximately half of all cancer patients complain of breathlessness at Read more…

Shortness of breath and cancer

The most common side effect of lung cancer is dyspnea, better known as shortness of breath. 90% of Lung cancer patients experience this at some point, during, and even long after treatment has ended. In a Lung Cancer Alliance survey, lung cancer survivors of 5 or more years, still rated it as their most problematic issue. It isn’t only lung cancer patients who suffer from breathlessness. Approximately half of all cancer patients complain of breathlessness at some point. (1) Shortness of breath is sometimes called air hunger. Unfortunately, for many cancer patients, it’s a part of their everyday life, negatively impacting their ability to do the things they need and want to do. Our Story In the fall of 2015, Dan’s stage IV lung cancer Read more…

Healthy living for Seniors with Cancer

If you have cancer, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential for feeling your best and improving your chances of treatment success. Senior cancer patients can benefit from a wide range of healthy habits, including regular exercise, healthy eating, and socialization. These healthy habits will help you manage treatment side effects and reduce painful cancer symptoms—and help you feel a little better every day! Here are some great ways to live healthy with a cancer diagnosis. Seek Out Support A good support network is vital to your overall health and wellness during treatment and beyond. Cancer patients with a good support network report better quality of life than those without. The people around you can provide all kinds of valuable assistance, including emotional support to help Read more…

Radon

You can’t see it or smell it. It’s in the air, both outdoors and in, as well as in drinking water from rivers and streams. It can be deadly. It may sound like something from a science fiction story, but it’s real. It’s radon. Why is Radon a Big Deal? Each year, it contributes to as many as 20,000 lung cancer deaths.[1] It’s a leading cause of lung cancer, second only to smoking and is the number 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. Non-smokers account for 20% of annual lung cancer deaths in the US[2] What is Radon? Radon is an odorless, colorless, highly radioactive gas. The alpha radiation released by radon is the same as that of plutonium. It’s soluble and easily penetrates materials Read more…

Celebrate Special Days

Something that everyone faces after losing a loved one is the pain of special days without them. Holidays, anniversaries, milestones all come with regularity regardless of whether or not we feel like celebrating them. Often the dread of how we will handle these days is worse than the days themselves. We wonder how we can celebrate anything ever again. In the last 2 months my husband’s birthday and my own, our 10th wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving and Christmas, have all come and gone.  I have learned a few things from these experiences that will hopefully help you if you aren’t sure of how to celebrate special days without someone you love. Plan how to celebrate special days ahead of time Rather than avoiding them, think about Read more…

Merry Christmas

Until then, have a wonderful time with family and friends. God bless you and yours!  

Grieving During the Holidays

While the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and family gatherings, when you are faced with cancer, there is a real mixture of emotions that come at this time of year. That’s because whether you or a loved one currently has cancer, or you’ve lost someone close to the disease you will feel the full effects of grieving during the holidays. Our Story We discovered my husband’s stage IV lung cancer at the end of October, just a couple of days before our 3rd wedding anniversary, a couple of weeks before his 52nd birthday, 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, 2 months before Christmas, and then 2013, the year he would statistically die.  In 2 months’ time, we trudged through all of these days Read more…

cancer and insomnia

Dealing with cancer can be overwhelming enough. When you are also dealing with insomnia, the effects on your mental health and ability to heal can be devastating. You need quality rest in order to recover and manage your cancer symptoms, but you also need it to properly manage your emotional well-being. So how can you do all of this without turning to medications? You can start by trying some of these sleep-boosting tips and tricks. Invest in a Comforting New Mattress and Bedding to Beat Insomnia Shopping for a new mattress can be stressful, When you are also living with cancer, dealing with that extra stress can be detrimental to your emotional health. Luckily, you can order one of the new “bed-in-a-box” mattresses from the Read more…

Job's Friends People Blame God

Previously, we’ve explored the incorrect (though often subconscious) idea that a person diagnosed with a life-altering illness, such as cancer, must have done something to cause it; smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating patterns, etc. I concluded the post by sharing how to be a supportive friend when someone is going through a trial, rather than one of Job’s comforters, blaming the sufferer. Beyond outward behaviors that may or may not have contributed to someone getting cancer, there is often a blame game of another sort—sin and God’s will. Today we will look at why people blame God for trials and sufferings in life. This is the second post that looks at Job from the Bible to gain insight into suffering. Why people blame God when they Read more…

Holiday Stress

Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas usually mean getting together with family. It’s part of what makes the holidays special. But, it can also be stressful. Sometimes family relationships are strained, adding anxiety to the mix. What makes this worse? How can you cope with stress within your family, especially during the holidays? Part of it will depend on personality. What’s your personality type? Are you typically: Laid back, able to roll with whatever comes at you? Uncomfortable with changes in your life, even positive changes? Quick to see what could go wrong, and able to find solutions to those problems? Always able to keep a positive outlook, even if that sometimes means avoiding the possibility that something could go wrong? Prone to depression or anxiety, Read more…

survive the holidays

Surviving the holidays can be difficult when you or someone you love is literally trying to survive the holidays. This almost always means the celebration will look different. I’ve put together a few thoughts and tips to give you a leg up. To survive the holidays you must first accept that things will be different. You won’t be participating in the cookie exchange or Christmas caroling. Things that were once fun, are in this new reality, exhausting. Even if you do have the energy to do them, they may zap your reserves so that you’re left burned out. One of the best things you can do is to recognize that the holidays will look different this year—maybe from now on. That’s okay. Change is a Read more…

Every October I try to predict peak color in the deciduous trees. Then I head off to the woods in St. Francis, Minnesota to spend a few days at Pacem in Terris (Latin for “Peace on Earth”). This year, I went at the perfect time. Taking a break is something everyone should do. Sometimes you may need it more than others. I found that the harder it is to make time in your schedule, the more important taking a break is. Get beyond the guilt of taking a break. This can be hard for caregivers. You spend all of your time trying to maintain control. Walking away for a few days means giving up the reigns to someone else. You may worry about how your family Read more…

Facing Cancer with Grace

How do you respond when someone you know tells you they’re facing cancer? So often, people feel at a loss for words. How can you make a difference at such a difficult time in your friend’s life? You don’t have to feel helpless. Facing Cancer as a Friend will show you what to say (and what not to say). You’ll learn how to use your gifts and strengths to support your friend when they need it most. Updated and Revised Edition! I’m pleased to announce that the updated and revised edition of Facing Cancer as a Friend is now available. It has improved formatting along with the encouraging content that has made this book such a hit. If you haven’t gotten a copy already, now is Read more…

Supportive Connections

What is resilience? It’s the ability to bounce when we come up against something tough, like cancer. Will we bounce like a rubber ball, or like a tomato? I learned a lot about resilience at the 2018 Breath of Hope Lung Foundation’s Lung Cancer Summit. Perhaps my greatest takeaways came from a talk delivered by Dr. Jeffery Kendall. PsyD, LP.[1] Dr. Kendall delivered a keynote address entitled, Resilience and Hope for Survivors & Caregivers. In the next few weeks, I am going to share a few of the things I learned from this inspiring message. I’ll start today by touching on the first key ingredient to a resilient life: supportive connections. The impact of supportive connections on cancer survivors and caregivers can’t be overlooked. Yet Read more…

caregiver team

It’s that time of year: NFL Draft Pick!  As a caregiver, you need to have a strong team on your side. While the NFL is choosing their overpaid players, you need to choose who you can count on to be on your caregiver team to help you get through the tough road ahead. The Caregiver is the Quarterback You call all of the plays. If something takes you out of the game, the team often falls apart. So, you need a strong support system behind you. Rather than equate the rest of the team to actual football positions, I will just label them as the positions they play on the caregiver team (Because I really don’t know much about football). Your Medical Team Your medical Read more…

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